Restore Balance – Time Spiral Remastered
Date Reviewed: March 9, 2021
Commander [EDH]: 3.00
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
None of Time Spiral‘s no-mana-cost suspend spells are exactly fair to cheat out, but Restore Balance is a little less universally-devastating than Living End, and a little less effective at card-flowing than Wheel of Fate and Ancestral Visions. Like those later two, it takes longer for you to actually win the game than the black member of the cycle. But when it hits, it hits hard. Symmetrical effects in Magic invariably end up being anything but symmetrical, and variants on Balance are particularly guilty of this because their targets are so specific and invite deckbuilding that leaves your side full of permanents after they resolve. If anything, it’s even better now that there are so many planeswalkers to choose from: if you had any in play before Restore Balance went off, your opponent is basically never going to be able to get rid of them.
Casual: 2/5 (there’s lots of ways to use it in the wide-open formats . . . but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend doing so for casual tables)
Occupying space similar to yesterday’s card, Restore Balance is a redone version of Balance from the first Magic sets. And it’s anything but balanced. The spell is supposed to equalize permanents and resources so everyone has the same amount…only this only hits lands and creatures, leaving artifacts and enchantments (and planeswalkers) completely alone, which meant that Balance would allow you to unload a slew of artifacts to fuel it, before dropping this and completely nullifying your opponent’s prospective advance.
Restore Balance tries to make this fairer by adding a six-turn timer for the effect going off. Six turns is a long wait in today’s game, when the ideal “turn to kill” happens long before that. The other wrinkle is that, unlike Living End, building around Restore Balance is a bit harder, requiring an actual board state and not just loading up your graveyard. The same “cheats” to mana cost exist: As Foretold, cascade spells, Electrodominance, and the like will all work to let this pop earlier than it has any right to.
That said, this does have pieces it pairs well with. Suspend is the obvious one; suspending cards means you can cast them into an empty board later, and suspended creatures do have haste. The most famous friend for Restore Balance is Greater Gargadon, since you can respond to Restore Balance going onto the stack by emptying out your board, greeting their defenseless face with an angry 9/7.
Restore Balance is powerful, but awkward. It’s less flagrantly powerful than Living End is, but it’s a potent little trick that can do very rude things if built around it. And unlike Living End, its counterpart card is pretty much banned everywhere, so this presents a fairly unique effect for most decks to tinker around with.
Constructed: 4 (once again, this has to be built around, but it’s pretty potent if you can make it work)
Casual: 2 (Balance is one of the most-unpopular cards to play against, and a fairer Balance does not make it fair)
Limited: 2 (Greater Gargadon and this card share Time Spiral Remastered Limited and their original Limited, just saying)
Commander: 3 (this is a massive gamble; it can pan out, but only for the prepared)
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